Friday, March 27, 2009


Not much is going on, as I'm sick. I'll update this blog over the weekend. I promise.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tuesday evening.

Light news day yesterday. After the heating guy left, Electrician Ron kept working and the plumber finished up with the code violation stuff. He also let me know that 4 radiator vents leak, so he'll have to replace those today. No big deal.

I'll have to order another 60 sheets of drywall today to finish off the rest of the house. Awesome.

Some good news: The check for 25 grand should be coming today, of which I will get 10 grand. Just in time for the wedding to take all of that money back. It's still not enough to cover what I've spent so far on the house, but it'll help for sure.

Lastly, a video:

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


At lunch today, I met the guy who was hopefully going to fix my oil/boiler problem. He drained a bunch of "shit" out of the oil tank and eventually got the boiler fired and running. I paid him $130 and he was on his way. Hopefully the house isn't currently burning to the ground, taking Electrician Ron with it...

Two things interested me today. The first one being the word "viscous". Three people who work in the plumbing and heating industry have all asked me what I mean when I say "viscous". How is this possible? My regular plumber, this heating specialist and the oil company all don't know what "viscous" means. I can see maybe my regular plumber not knowing, as he doesn't do much in the oil department, but a heating specialist and the oil company? Isn't one of the defining characteristics of oil, with which these people are supposed to be professionals, its viscosity? I remain in awe of these working professionals.

The second interesting thing today was the small talk the heating guy chose. (In the below, I will substitute expletives with replacement words in red text)

Heating Guy - "Did you hear about that dumb beeword who wants 53 grand a week?"

Ryan - "What?"

HG - "Yea, there's this effword beeword somewhere who's trying to get 53 grand a week for alimony."

R - "I haven't heard about that. Where is it?"

HG - "I don't know, some beeword thinks she needs that much to live every week. What a stupid effword seaword. That's why I told my boys early on to not mess around with girls. You gotta be careful who you choose. Dumb beeword."

Sound advice. And considering the plans Amanda and I have for the next couple of weeks, timely.

Monday, March 23, 2009


This post, like my other weekend recap posts, has much length.

Friday – I showed up to the house after work to meet up with the man in charge of my money. He was a little late, so Al Medina, General Contractor, filled me in on what the inspector (who came earlier in the day) told him. It’s generally bad.

The gist of it was the master bathroom needs to readjusting, most notably, the toilet needs to be moved a few inches forward and the tub needs to be a stand up shower. Sweet.

The toilet needs to move forward because there needs to be, according to code, at least 6’8” ceiling height directly above the front edge of the toilet. That means that the pipe that was fitted (below) needs to be moved about 3 inches forward.

The tub that was just installed needs to be removed:

There is another ceiling height requirement related to the tub, but I’ve forgotten what it is. Some arbitrary number I’m sure. The plan for this requirement is as follows: 1. Buy a shower stall floor ($100). 2. Get Joe Merritt, plumber to half-ass install the shower floor. 3. Install cheap shower walls. 4. Get through final inspection with no more problems. 5. Take out shower, replace with tub. 6. Try not to get caught.

When the money fellow showed up, we took him on a tour and showed him the windows and other work that had been completed, so he could send us another check.

New windows here:

During the discussions, he, Al Medina and Electrician Ron were chatting about how gays and lesbians have more money than other people. It was appropriate.

Electrician Ron then said, referring to some work he had done, “I was doing these two lesbians once…” Immediately the eyes of Al Medina and Richard Who Will Pay Us lit up.

“What?!?" They both said , trying to fit a joke in before the other. “Then they aren’t lesbians if you did them!”

I half smirked and shifted my stance uncomfortably while Electrician Ron, flustered (because he’s dumb and doesn’t recognize sarcasm all that well) tried to stumble through the rest of his story. The conversation ended up with everyone arguing over why gay men and lesbians have more money than everyone. Basically, ER said that they don’t have any kids, plus they have two incomes, thus they’re rich. AM said that they come from money (what?). And RWWPU says that it shouldn’t matter, because gay men buy just as many shoes as women, and that is apparently a lot. Just an awesome conversation to not participate in.

After some sanding, I headed home for the day.

Saturday – While Amanda drove to New Jersey and back to pick up her wedding dress, finally, I headed to the house to get working. When I got there, a bunch of people were putting dry wall up on the second floor and I got back to business sanding more walls.

Here’s the finished drywall on the second floor. They did this in less than 4 hours including closets and a million cuts for the weird wall/ceiling angles. Impressive:

After an hour or so of sanding, I headed to Home Depot, in the red light district, to pick up some painting supplies. On the way back to the house, I sat in traffic for roughly 45 minutes, because apparently there was a parade for tiny, redheaded potato eaters going right down the street I wanted to be on.

I finally made it back to the house and did some more sanding and demolition work to take out the tub surround in the first floor bathroom. I had hoped to save it, but the old owner used some sort of weird adhesive on the shower doors, so it was unsalvageable. After cutting out some parts and prying at the surround with a crowbar, a piece snapped off and hit me in the forehead. I figured that was as good a time as any to call it a day.

Sunday – After another trip to Home Depot, I went to the house fairly early and got to work putting up some dry wall in the bathroom. The space was fairly small and only needed a few cuts, but it still took me forever. I mis-measured and had to re-cut a few times, so it took me probably a half an hour too long to do it.

Amanda came to the house to help out around 10am, so she got to work sanding. I finally got the tub surround out and am now left with a nice looking bathroom hole:

After lunch, Amanda and I started doing some yard work with a rake I found in the basement. While clearing out the spot next to the garage, I found a few things. The first find was a good one; a bunch of stone we could use for a patio area. Free patio saves me much money on my landscaping budget, so that’s excellent:

The second find was not as good. A huge roll of linoleum was sitting under inches of dirt. There was actually grass growing over this roll of ugly, and apparently ancient, linoleum. That’s going to be a real pain in the ass to get out of there, as again, it’s covered in soil and growth.

I ended up stopping for the day a little earlier than I’d hoped and Amanda and I started our weekend around 2pm. Up for this week? Prepping all of the walls for primer (before the floors get refinished), getting all of the drywall hung upstairs and down, the plumber is going to ghetto rig the shower base upstairs, picking up appliances on Saturday and my brother in law is going to come down to help me out with the shell that is the first floor bathroom. I’m sure more will happen, but those are the plans for now.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Neighbor's Husband

As I mentioned before, one of my neighbors is crazy. You can read about her here if you like. Well, what kind of guy do you think would decide to spend his life married to such a woman? An awesome one? Nope. A super awesome one? More likely.

I met him last weekend and somehow forgot to write about him. My apologies. Four facts:

First thing about him? Under bite.

Second thing? Looks smelly.

Third thing? Is smelly.

Fourth thing? Gives extra long, very firm handshakes.

Not just one. Multiple handshakes. Introduction handshake ("Hi, my name is *insert name Ryan forgot*"). Welcome to the neighborhood handshake. Congratulatory handshake ("Congrats on the home purchase"). Congratulatory handshake 2.0 ("My wife tells me you're getting married"). Exit handshake ("Nice meeting you, good luck, etc").

Not only is he cavalier with his handshake quantity, he holds your hand for an uncomfortable amount of time. It's absurd really. Ten seconds, and I'm not joking, after my hand went limp, he was still shaking away.

I came to a conclusion when thinking about why one would shake someones hand seconds after the recipient had effectively quit on the shake. I realize that he is trying to counter my, and any one else's 'slow sidle' technique for conversation avoidance. If he is holding my hand, I can't creep further away and slowly escape.

I guess he's smarter than he looks; which isn't very hard to be.

As for the weekend, I'll be working in the house today, tomorrow and Sunday. Hooray. The window installers forgot one basement window (sigh) so I'll have to wait for that one to come in. Plus, the framing inspector didn't show up yesterday, so hopefully he'll head over there today. We can't start putting up the drywall until he gives everything the OK, so it's kind of important that he go there soon.

Big Things Pooping...

Another long one. You've been warned.

If the weeks of this renovation were cars, week 1 would probably be a Honda Accord. Nothing flashy, just gets the job done and done well.

Week two however, is quickly turning into the VW Cabrio that Amanda currently drives around. Its luster is lost, it sounds kind of bad, calamity could ensue at any moment and it wouldn’t pass an inspection.

Here’s my Tuesday:

The dry wall was delivered. They didn’t call me to let me know it was going there, but hey, why would I expect them to do that? This is a problem because instead of getting a boom lift, like I had asked for, they apparently just dropped it off in the driveway. This is not ideal for two reasons: 1 – I now have to pay a bunch of guys a few hundred bucks to carry all that sheet rock up stairs, and 2 – the dumpster truck came this morning, but again couldn’t pick it up because the sheet rock was in the way. Great.

I gave Home Depot, where I ordered the sheet rock from, a call and asked about the boom lift. They said someone should have called me, etc., etc. and I asked about getting a lift out there today. They said that there’s a 72 hour lead time for the lift, and more importantly, there’s a $100 delivery charge, plus $9.50 charge per sheet to lift them to the second floor. That’s an extra $670 just to do what I asked them to do in the first place. None of those fees were brought up when I was ordering. Sigh. This in mind, I called Al Medina, general contractor, and let him know that I’ll pay his guys to carry heavy materials to the second floor. He was not pleased, and I’m sure his workers are even less so.

I now have to schedule yet another dumpster pick-up and cut another check for labor.

Morning over.

When I got back into my car after leaving the gym, I opened my phone and saw a message from Al was waiting for me. In the Honda Accord version of the renovations, it would be a quick question about something simple. This is Amanda’s VW Cabrio week, so it’s not going to be good.

Al's message said that an inspector came and saw a bunch of electrical stuff that needed to be buttoned up. I called Electrician Ron and he sounded somber (even though on the inside, he was probably gleeful at the prospect of more work). The inspector inspected the second floor, where ER had done most of his work; no problems. The first floor and basement, where previous owner, Dis-Handyman had done most of his great work? Many problems. Awesome.

ER told me that it would be about $3k to fix everything that needs to be fixed (basically rewiring the basement and first floor, as the methods and materials used by Dis-Handyman are substandard according to the inspector). I told him that I’d get back to him.

I called up Al, after going over the paperwork we both signed (important) at the beginning of all the work, and let him know what ER said. He said he would ask the inspector for the details and call me back.

Going over the paperwork is important, because in it, it says that the General Contractor is responsible for “bring(ing) the electrical system up to code.”

I heard from Al a few hours later and he had spoken with the inspector, as well as Electrician Rob. I convinced Al to pay for half of the cost, as he agreed to take care of all of the electrical. On the other hand, he’s done some good work for me for free so far, so I bent a little and we met in the middle. I now owe $1500 ($750 of which was paid this morning. Hooray.) to ER to fix all of the stupid electrical.

Another consequence of the day is the fact that now the Fire Department may also inspect the work. “So what,”you say? That’s what I said too. That is, until ER informed me that the Fire Department will look for hardwired, rather than battery operated, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. I have already purchased battery operated carbon/smokes ($105), so looks like I get to return those and spend some more money on hardwired ones ($180).

Tuesday over, I went to the house early this morning to meet with the window guys. They were late, thus I was late for work, but hey, at least they brought the windows. I've yet to hear anything bad from them, so I assume that things are going well with the installation. The new windows are going to look fantastic and hopefully drive my profit up a little bit.

Also on deck for today? More inspectors. This time for the framing work that's been done. If it were last week, everything would be fine. It is not last week and although Amanda's VW is still plugging along, as is the work in the house, you never quite know when her car will catch fire or possibly explode.

Go VW go.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Big Things Popping.

Big news. The main water valve was cranked to the 'on' position yesterday, and nothing exploded. This is sterling news. I fully expected a radiator or sink or something to go shooting through the roof and into a tree when the water hit them, but thankfully, it didn't happen.

The plumbers finished up fixing the boiler and plumbing the master bathroom, so it was time to test the water. They opened the main valve and water slowly crept through the pipes in the house. Nothing catastrophic happened and the basement is not flooded.

The bad news is, they fired up the boiler and it didn't hold a flame. Apparently, the oil running to it, which feeds the flame, is a little less viscous than it should be, and that could cost me some money. I just had the oil company dump 100 gallons in, for $165, but I may have to have them clean out the tank and refill it. The plumber is going to buy some sort of new nozzle and see if that works, but he's not optimistic. I should know by Thursday. Yippee.

I went over there early this morning to drop off a huge bucket of joint compound (because I forgot to drop it off yesterday. I am a retard). The basement wasn't flooded and no pipes had exploded anywhere, so the water system may be still in good shape, which is probably great news.

On the docket for the day today? A huge and expensive dry wall delivery.

Oh, and the dumpster that was supposed to be picked up on Monday is still sitting in my driveway. If you recall, when they tried to deliver it, the truck they used was too big to fit into the driveway. Apparently, the dumpster company didn't recall the problems that they had, so they went there with the same big truck, had the same problem and ended up leaving it there. Awesome.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Am I a Sissy? You Be the Judge.

I'm getting a big reaction, mostly negative, in the form of thousands of emails from readers of this blog. The emails I'm getting are attacking my character, manhood and general athleticism. While factually, they are all correct (as I have no character, manhood or general athleticism), they are incorrect in citing the dragging the tub up the stairs story (see yesterday's super long post) as evidence of said shortcomings.

In short, these emails are saying such things as, "what a sissy. Tubs are small and easy to carry," and "boy, Ryan is a wimpy type of guy. I'm sure glad I don't have to date him," and "I am dating you. You are a real sissy. As a former gymnast, I could definitely lift that tub up over my head and throw it up the stairs. The wedding is off."

You get the picture.

As proof that I am indeed not, in fact, an enormous pansy, here is a photo I just snapped of me standing in a poncho (you never know when it might rain) next to the tub. It is not trick photography, nor is it altered in any way.

Eat that jerks.

Boring Monday

Not much happened yesterday. I worked at work and Al Medina (my contractor) and crew worked at the house I bought (I hope).

Electrician Rob did call me to let me know that he needed the balance of the $800 I owe him for the amp conversion. He drove to my office and let me know that he's getting killed in this tough economy because "when the economy is down, everyone wants you to do stuff for nothing. Al doing a great job for you, but he's killing me" I nodded and kept writing the check. Three hundred dollars later, and he was on his way.

This week's lineup? Nothing today, huge drywall delivery Wednesday, window installation Thursday, Visit from Richard (the guy who is controlling my money in escrow) on Friday, inhale dust from joint compound from drywalling all weekend, among other things.

Sorry for the boring post, again. Here's my favorite part from Uncle Buck:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Over the weekend you stupid...

This is a long one, heads up.

Friday - Went to the house after work and got busy on some wallpaper removal. Super extra fun stuff. I removed the wallpaper in the first floor bathroom, which was awesome. When I took down the wallpaper, there was a nice surprise waiting for me. Mold. Under every inch of the paper, there were little mold dots. Also, the handy fellow who lived there before I bought the place, he/she used an interesting adhesive for the wallpaper seams. What's your best bet for sealing off wallpaper from moisture? Sealant? Varnish? Crazy Glue? Nope. Scotch Tape. When I think of a perfect seal for things, I think of invisible tape you use to wrap presents.

Once I was finished up with the first layer of paper (the under layer was stuck to the wall and needed some remover), I headed back to my current apartment to rest up for the next day, and eject as much mold from my lungs/nose as possible.

Also, Amanda brought cookies and brownies for all of the workers. They were probably appreciative.

Saturday - Since I'm getting married in a few weeks, Amanda and I have a bunch of crap to do to get ready for that. One of those things is getting things to wear. A suit for me and a dress for her. She needed to go to her home state of New Jersey (cringe) for another dress fitting, and I needed a pick up the suit I had tailored in NJ (thanks Mr. Stotzer). We drove down to NJ, got our stuff done, and started the drive back.

There's an Ikea in Connecticut that I figured we should stop at, as it's right off the highway. We went in, walked around, and left with a bathroom vanity ($179) and sink ($100) for the master bathroom. Sadly, all of their faucets are ugly, so I'll still have to buy one of those. We also looked at a bunch of stuff we should buy later on, when it's time to furnish the house (after we get money for being married).

Here's the vanity/sink combo we went with:


Sunday - Up bright and early and headed to the house. Lugged the new Ikea stuff upstairs and got cracking on building it. Half of the fun of Ikea stuff is getting to put it together. I am a fan of that.

After putting together the vanity, I headed over to Home Depot to buy a tub ($100) and order 60 sheets of dry wall for delivery ($430). I got the tub and brought it back to the house, only to find that Electrician Rob had left, and I was stuck there, alone, left to drag this thing up some awkward stairs. Here's the tub (huge):

And here are the stairs (awkward):

Once I reached the turn in the stairs, I quickly realized that this thing wasn't going to fit. The walls were in the way, the tub box was too wide for the turn, and I'm very skinny, making it hard to manhandle anything around a corner. Since I didn't want to drag the thing back down the stairs, and because I'm an idiot, I perched the tub on one corner and leaned it against the wall. I then slid past it (again, skinny) to go grab a hammer and crow bar. Worker safety be damned, the temporary railing at the top of the stairs had to go.

I very carefully removed the wood, making sure not to disturb the hanging tub too much, and slipped past it again to try and lift it up. I jerked on it a few times and realized that I was just going to have to lift it straight up and over everything. In one fluid motion (read: strained, herky jerky) I muscled (read: screamed and pulled) the tub up onto the floor. My back made a bunch of fun noises when I stood back up and I dragged the tub to it's final resting place.

A few minutes later, Electrician Rob showed up. My hero.

Tub upstairs, I got busy in the living room taking down even more wallpaper. All the while, Electrician Rob was working outside on getting the meter adjusted for the change from 100 to 200 amps. Good times.

Around 11 or so, I went back to my apartment to eat some lunch. Thereafter, Amanda and I piled into the car to go see the appliances, in Cranston, that a guy had for sale on craigslist. (Quick aside on the guy. When I called him the first time, his voicemail introduces him as "Attorney Hunter". I have no idea what this is. Is he an attorney with the last name of Hunter? Does he find attorneys for people? Does he ritually execute lawyers? I'm confused).

Before we left, I gave him a call and again called when we were on the way. Both times, Attorney Hunter (real name of Steve) sounded a little out of breath and was fading in and out, as if he were repeating the same movement over and over while on the phone. I put the panting and the repetitive motion together to mean only one thing; he was molesting a child in a shed or basement. I kept this in mind as we approached his house.

He met us at the door, and he said "pardon my appearance," (sweats and a t-shirt), "I'm just doing some landscaping." I saw the sweats and thought, "easy on, easy off" and peeked out back to look for a shed. No shed. The kid must have been in the basement or something...

Imagined molestation aside, the appliances are in great shape and are going to save me a bunch of money. I agreed to take them off of his hands in a few weeks and I now don't have to look for a dishwasher and range. It's a win/win/lose. He gets money for appliances, I get appliances, the kid in his basement wasn't loud enough to alert me, so he stays in the basement.

Once finished there, we drove back to Providence and stepped into Home Depot. I asked for Amanda's help on the bath fixtures finishes (brushed nickel was the winner) and we picked up a tub drain valve ($100. Oof), some sponges (for the wallpaper remover, $10) and some joint compound ($15) and a Dr. Pepper (for Amanda, $1.50).

We also looked at some toilets. While looking, a weird man approached us and let us know that he just bought a "great toilet" and proceeded to steer us in the direction of said toilet. We obliged (ugh) and walked over. He then proceeded to tell us 6-10 times how awesome the toilet is, and it's various features. Well, feature. It's apparently low flow. Thanks sir, that is very helpful.

We didn't end up getting a toilet, despite the salesmanship shown by a random man, be we were followed by an even weirder man giving the eye to Amanda.

He looked a little like this guy, only upright and licking his lips:

Did I mention that this Home Depot is in a super nice neighborhood? It is. Strip clubs, sex shops and bars abound. I can't wait to go back.

We brought all of that stuff over to the house and got to work. Amanda started in on the rest of the wallpaper removal in the living room, and I got to business in the first floor bathroom. I removed the toilet (gross), removed the medicine cabinet, demoed the vanity/sink and removed the door. After that, I stripped the rest of the wallpaper and sprayed everything with bleach, which will hopefully kill the mold.

After that, the weekend began. We got back to our apartment around 5, made some steak tips and tried not to move.

Week 1 Progress

I'll have an extensive update sometime later today, but for now, here are some before/after images of the progress made in the first official week of work at the house.

Gross Bathroom. None of the wallpaper, all of the under wallpaper mold.

Here's the ceiling that had to be dropped to accommodate the Master Bathroom plumbing. It's only been dropped a few inches, so not many people will notice.

Here's the entry to the house. Before, the mud room wall was butted right up against the door. I added a few inches to the entry way width, to make it symmetrical. The mud room is a little smaller, but no big deal.

Here's the top of the stairs on the second floor. Skylights were added (awesome), the bathroom wall was extended out to make room for a shower, and a doorway was framed so it's a bedroom, rather than a big weird studio at the top of some stairs.

The mud room. No more terrible closet. Moved the doorway over a few inches, so the frame isn't right against the wall.

The dining room. The weirdo interior windows looking into the mud room are gone. New blue board is up in their place.

Here's the kitchen. The old, 18 layers of paint bead board is gone. There's also now a big hole in the wall looking into the dining room.

The unfinished room in the attic got a bunch of framing and electrical work done to it. There were two closets framed up, one on each side of the windows. It's just waiting for sheet rock.

Lastly, here's the master bedroom walk in closet. Before, it was a tiny, weird little closet. Now it's huge.

That's it for pictures. In all, a lot got done in the first week. All of the framing upstairs is done. All of the electrical work upstairs is done. The plumbing is coming along. The first floor has new ceilings. The first floor has a bunch of new walls (drywall & skim coat). The house has been upped to 200 amps, from 100.. The dumpster is totally full. All the wallpaper is down. The neighbors are crazy. I'm tired. Etc.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Yesterday was bonus day here at Hasbro. I am due 10% of my yearly earnings, which, after taxes, works out to about .005% of my yearly earnings. That said, up until about 5pm yesterday, I had a few thousand dollars more than I started the day with. At 5pm, I was back in the red.

I went to the house to check up on things and pay some people. The skylights are in (awesome) and they've started fixing some ceiling problems. The plumbers are starting to plumb the master bathroom, and the electrician is doing his job, and being kind of stupid (more on this later).

I talked to the plumbers first, which was my most expensive conversation of the day. They're going to have to drop a ceiling in one of the first floor bedrooms down about 6 inches, which is fine, as they're a little over 9 feet to begin with. The house uses tiny little joists, and thus, cutting a big hole in the middle of it might compromise the structural integrity, leaving about a sixteenth of an inch of wood at the top and bottom of the hole. Again, no big deal to drop the ceiling a little if it means having a shower connected to the master bedroom.

After that conversation, I cut them a check for three grand (oof) and they were back to work.

Next up was my electrician. I went over some recessed lighting placement with him in the living room and talked about hardwired vs. battery operated smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. He wants to hard wire them, to the tune of 150 bucks, plus the cost of the alarms. I didn't really want to spend that much. I told him I'd get back to him.

As for the recessed lighting, this little exchange occurred. See photo for referenced living room area:

Electrician Ron: "So what are you going to do with this little area?"

Ryan: "Probably a little reading area or something."

ER: "Yea, like a little jerk off area?"

Ryan "Um."

I may be relatively new to RI, and I'm not familiar with all of the colloquialisms yet, but a little "jerk off area" isn't really what I had in mind, and I'm not sure I'll market the house that way. I'm sure he meant it like "relaxing" or something. Regardless, consider it filed away as at least one possibility for staging when the house is ready for an open house. Gross.

Getting back to the decisions at hand, rather than decisions to be made in the coming months, I decided on two recessed lights in the little READING area and four more surrounding the ceiling fan in the main living area. Originally, it was going to be four in the living room, but they have two extra 'cans' (recessed lighting housing) so I might as well use them if they're not going to charge me for labor.

The conversation then shifted to the kitchen. The old owner, who was a terrible handyman (dis-handyman?) had plugged the over the range hood into a wall socket above the stove, then threaded the cord back up through the wall (behind the drywall/tile) to the hood above. I had never seen anything like it. Essentially, he plugged in the hood, then put up a wall, then tiled, leaving the hood's plug exposed. See below if you don't believe me (also, please notice the fine tiling workmanship. Nice clean cuts for the electrical box, tile seams line up perfectly, immaculate grout,etc):

After he explained how this is going to be fixed, he asked me about a weird little door in the kitchen. See below:

The refrigerator is going in front of the little closet thing, as it's pretty much useless. Or so I thought.

Electrician Ron made a delightful suggestion to me, and I swear to you that he wasn't joking. First he asked me what I did for a living, and I told him I'm a professional nerd for Hasbro. He then thought for a second, and suggested that I use the little closet spot, especially once the fridge is there, as a good hiding spot for my valuables. What valuables you ask? Well, my gold bars of course. Unreal.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


My apologies to all who were confused. I've been getting hundreds and hundreds of emails (all from the New England area) pointing out my mistake. Yesterday, in the post about the plumber, I wrote that the plumber needed a "pipe threader" to complete the work needed on the furnace. I was mistaken. It is called a "pipe threddah".

I apologize.


Nothing is what happened yesterday. The plumber started, work continued in the house, I decided to put a ceiling fan in the master bedroom, I called about some appliances on craigslist and that's about it.

The appliances won't be available for a couple of weeks, which is fine with me, as they'll save me about $400, plus we don't need them until we're ready to move in next month.


Since I'm so boring, I guess I'll leave you with this.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Plumber problems

So I had a plumber come in and look at the house a few months ago. I had him in again last Friday to refresh his memory. We agreed on the work to be done (reconnect the furnace, move some pipes in the master bathroom, install shower pipes in master bathroom, fix retarded radiator in a bedroom) and the price (6 grand). We also agreed that he start yesterday, so he could get the heat up and running this week.

In the morning yesterday, I got a call from him, saying that he loaned his pipe threader, which is necessary to reconnect the furnace, out to a friend of his and that friend is on vacation. Because of this, he said he can't start until Friday. I told him that's not ideal. He agreed to ask around to see if he could start today with a borrowed pipe threader.

A few hours later, he called back and let me know that he hasn't had any luck finding a threader, but "for a little extra" he could get the pipes cut and threaded at Home Depot. I told him 6 grand for the work or nothing. He hemmed and hawed a little, so I asked him if he could recommend any other plumbers in the area who could get he work done. He said he'd call me back with numbers, as they are in his phone. I hung up, expecting to hear back from him in a few minutes with a few numbers.

Three hours later, he called me back and said he found a threader. Miraculous. He's starting today.

As for the fake stainless steel appliances at Sears, they look just as weird as the ones from Lowe's T. I'm going to have to shell out for the low end, actual stainless stuff. Lame. I'll be scouring craigslist looking for some cheaper ones, as I'd really like to be under my $1500 dollar kitchen appliance budget.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I just got back from today's lunchtime house visit. I had to go and meet with a loan guy, so he could hand over some money I'm already paying interest on, even though it's just sitting in escrow. He was a little late, so I went over the master bathroom setup and decided to add a skylight, in lieu of an exhaust fan, in the bathroom. About the same price, much better looking. I also met the electrician, who is very dumb. Once the loan guy showed up, we got to it. He toured the house and saw what was going on, then decided it would be fine to hand over some of my money.

When we were finishing up and signing some things, I noticed a short, squat, fat, bright red haired older woman just kind of hanging around. About to leave, I overheard the woman asking who the owner of the house was. Sadly, my contractor let her know it was me. While he's a good contractor and is doing very good work, very quickly, he obviously has no idea that I don't like interacting with people, let alone obviously unbalanced people.

She introduced herself and I immediately forgot her name. She then proceeded to tell me that she's been in her house since '74, has two adult sons in their mid 30's, and is very glad to see someone has finally bought the house next to her, as the old owners apparently stunk. She also noticed the permit hanging on the front door, touched her index finger to her nose, raised her eyebrows,lightly patted her behind and said, "that's good. the people around here have noses." I have no idea what that means.

Thereafter, she let me know that to her, "refinance means put money back into the house. They just took it and put it in their butts," referring to the old owners who, if you remember, stunk. I wish I was making this up.

When we were finished chatting, or when I had slowly sidled far enough away to get my point across, I got in my car. I then contacted the police station, since I had made friends with them on Saturday when they asked out my in-street dumpster, and asked for the sketch artist. On my way back to work, I described the woman to the artist and he sent me this image. Keep in mind that this is just a police sketch, so it's not as great as it could be. It's still pretty good from an over the phone description.

Things Assorted

During lunch yesterday, I headed to my lawyers office to get some sort of authorization form notarized. It has something to do with pulling permits or something. I don't know. After it was signed and stamped, I headed to the house to give it to my contractor. They were hard at work when I got there, having ripped out some sinks and stoves and had started to frame up some new walls in the empty side of the second floor. Impressive.

Before I left, I grabbed my Dremel and bored out a little bit of the deadbolt hole in the door. I don't know if you've ever used a Dremel on wood before, but it basically sands it down by singeing it. I smelled of burned wood for the rest of the day.

After work, Amanda and I headed back to Lowe's T to figure out if those kind of fake stainless steel appliances look decent or not. here are the ones I had in mind:

I'm still undecided. They're much cheaper, but look kind of tan in some lights. I'll head to Sears today after work to see what Kenmore has to offer in the way of fake stainless steel. I hope they look better, to make my decision a little easier:

As for today? Another lunch visit to meet up with my 203k fellow, who will be drawing money from my loan and handing it to my contractor. Thereafter, my contractor will hand some to me, as I've already handed out a bunch of money for things. I'm some sort of subcontractor or something.

Lastly, here's some video of tearing down some walls and cabinets. The best part is around 1:20, when Amanda lets us know how much she likes smashing things with a simple exclamation.

Monday, March 9, 2009


Here are some images of the place - Look.


Friday - After work (we get out at 1 on Fridays) I met a window guy at the house. Even though I knew exactly what I wanted, he wanted to make sure that I got the entire sales pitch. An hour and a bunch of measurements later, I handed over a check for 2 grand and the windows were ordered. I didn't stick around thereafter, as I had a bunch of stuff to do video editing wise.

Saturday - Got to the house bright and early at 7am to wait for a dumpster. While I waited, I took every screw and nail out of every wall and window casing. Terrible.

The dumpster came on a fairly big truck, as it's a fairly big dumpster (30 yards). This turned out to be a terrible idea. The truck was too wide, as well as too tall, to fit into the driveway without tearing out some curb and more importantly, wires going to my neighbors house. Solution? Drop the dumpster off in the middle of the street and wait an hour for a smaller truck to put it in. Killer idea. I kept on working on the walls/windows and 45 minutes later, the police paid me a visit. Apparently, a permit-less dumpster taking up one lane of a residential street is some sort of hazard. Fifteen minutes of explaining and a phone call to the dumpster company later, and the cop was gone. A half hour after that and the smaller truck, with a much more inbred looking driver arrived. Toothless, but possessing much dumpster driving skill, the new driver, and his smaller truck, dropped the dumpster off and was ready to be on his way. Before leaving however, he asked if he could "take a piss". I told him that the water is not yet on in the house, so he "pissed" onto my garage. Off to a good start.

A half an hour after that, my contractor showed up to start demo. He and his possibly (definitely) illegal immigrant crew got to business. As that was my last responsibility at the house for the day, I went home after giving him a key to the place. I had to get ready for the big meeting of the families (mine and my girlfriend's), so I sped home to finish up the hours and hours of video editing for our family awards show (video clips seen here - The show was a big hit with red faces, embarrassment and laughter abound, as were the steak tips, and the day was finally done.

Sunday - Woke up, packed up the crowbar and sledgehammer/axe, saw my girlfriend's family drive away and she and I headed off to Lowes to spend those gift cards. (Lowes aside - did those Lowe's T commercials confuse you as much as they did me? It took a few viewings to realize, "Oh, Lowest, as in prices") We grabbed some dust masks, some bleach, gloves, step ladder, etc paid and headed out the door into the wind. I was thinking, "hey, this is my first official home improvement tax write off, sweet". No sooner had I finished the thought when a gust of wind blew the receipt away. Not just rolling/sliding across the ground, as to give us a chance to retrieve it, but soaring high into the sky. It flew up about 35 feet, and danced along the side of the building. Once past the corner, and another direction of wind could effect it, it went even higher, probably to about 60 feet, and flew over some trees. If it didn't land in the hands of a CPA, then I guess that $130 bucks I spent won't be a write off come next year. F.

After the receipt fled, we got to the house and started the super fun stuff; smashing walls. Amanda took the inaugural swings and we destroyed some wood paneling, pulled up some carpets, took down some cabinets, installed new locks/deadbolts and tried not to get injured. Amanda cut her leg (barely), but that's about the worst of it. I'll get some video of the demo fun up in the next few days. It should prove to be at least a little entertaining, if not for the destruction, then definitely for Amanda's exclamations when breaking things.

Today I get to have a permit authorization form notarized and hand it over to my contractor at lunch. I'll also Dremel out some of the front door, so I can fit the stupid new deadbolt in the door. Why aren't such things uniform? What the f?

After that, It's get some oil delivered tomorrow, get the plumber started and not much else for me until Friday afternoon. My contractor will be working in the house all week (I hope) finishing up the demo and getting some framing done. He should probably start work on refinishing the hardwoods too. Who knows?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Day 1.

After months of delays and hundreds of signatures, I just bought a house yesterday. It's kind of dilapidated. Here are the stats:

1600+ square feet

Built in the 1930s

In Elmhurst

Kind of (very) crappy

I'll be updating this blog as often as I can with pictures, videos and the like. I have a full time job and am getting married in less than a month though, so who knows when I'll have time?

The goal is three months, 67 thousand dollars and a 50 thousand dollar profit. I bought it super cheap (and put up with all kinds of crap to get it), but selling it these days is going to be terrible.
Onc ethe heat is working, new windows are in and the hardwoods have been refinished, my girlfriend and I will be living in it. Awesome.

First thing on the agenda? Demolition. The dumpster will be in the driveway tomorrow morning. I'll be throwing all kinds of crap into it on Sunday, then my general contractor will start throwing crap into it on Monday and subsequent days.

Should prove to be an interesting few months. Stay tuned...